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New review casts doubts on omega-3s

A new review of 89 omega-3 studies, published in the April 1 British Medical Journal, aims to cast aspersions on the vaunted ingredient's health claims.

Since 2004, fish-based omega-3 fatty acids have been able to boast an official qualified health claim from the US Food and Drug Administration for its benefits on cardiovascular health.

Within the studies in the meta-analysis, the main focus was on 15 randomised, controlled studies. Of those, nine showed benefit of omega-3s, five showed no significant difference and one was negative. But when combined and reviewed in this study, the authors reported no significant benefit.

"It is disappointing that when the vast majority of the evidence points to the positive benefits of omega-3 fish oils for heart, that one review paper can cause so much concern amongst consumers," said Tom Sanders, professor of nutrition at King's College, London.

The study was well publicised in the mainstream press throughout the UK, causing much consternation amongst consumers, despite the efforts of experts to take the conclusions with a grain of salt.

"People should not stop consuming omega-3 fats or eating oily fish as a result of this study," said Mike Knapton, MD, director of prevention and care at the British Heart Foundation.

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